Picture beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees and never-ending skyscrapers. With drinks delivered straight to your deckchair and the constant flow of people leaving limousines and heading towards the world’s best parties. You’re probably also imagining loads of dark-roomed casinos and players splashing the cash on poker and roulette.
Yes, this definitely fits an image. But, before you completely get lost in your daydreaming, you should know that gambling is not allowed in the UEA. Anyone who engages in gambling activities can face up to 2 years in prison. The betting law in the UAE is very strict and can result in foreigners' extradition.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any ways around the law. You will see further on that there are ways with which anyone from the UAE will be able to indulge in betting.
Betting Laws In The UAE
It might come as a surprise that gambling and certain forms of sports betting are illegal in the UAE. Especially with Dubai being a host of the prestigious horse race, Dubai World Cup Night. Bookings from all over the world prepare wagers for different sports but cannot be actually enjoyed by people from the UAE.
It is good to understand why such a thing is happening. The UAE national religion is Islam and the religion forbids any forms of gambling and advertising on such a topic. But these laws are more often than not, focused on concerns with children or minors exposure to gambling culture, as well as protecting the vulnerable. The religion aims to protect people from addiction and protecting minors from exposure at such an early age.
The law is very straightforward: gambling and any gambling-related advertising in any shape or form are prohibited.
However, there are certain exceptions when it comes to sports betting.
What Is The Punishment?
Article 414 of the UAE Penal Code sets the penalty for casual gambling at up to 2-years detention. But, most gamblers either don’t get caught or they don’t get the maximum sentence. Citizens are usually fined and the foreigners are deported.
What’s even more interesting, if anyone gets caught on opening or running a place that allows gambling, they will be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tourists and visitors have reported coming across junkies offering lucrative odds. It’s a trap for which many can fall, without realising the punishment and possible prison sentence.
The United Arab Emirates takes the gambling prohibition very seriously, hence they established the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. Their main purpose is to manage internet access and bans the content that is not allowed in the UAE.
This includes not only the websites that promote gambling, pornography etc. but also tools that could allow bypassing the blocked content. The vast majority of online gambling or sports betting websites are not accessible for the UAE’s citizens.
What To Expect?
Despite the gambling constraint, there are several exceptions which permit running competitions in the UAE. However, it has to be authorised prior by the relevant regulatory department.
Some wagers are permitted in terms of horse racing and shooting. However, there are certain requirements that have to be met beforehand to ensure the security of betting:
- There must a certainty of the prize and it has to be specified
- There must a designated and approved person who will give the prize
- The subject matter and the competition's scope must be defined before bets are allowed.
It’s not as simple as placing a bet in a traditional way, that we know. A prize can only be paid to a winner who wins the competition through own efforts and skills. Paying the prize to a third party (someone who’s not participating in the contest) would be outside of what is permitted – thus would fall into the category of illegal gambling.
Ways ‘Around’ It
As mentioned before, online gambling is blocked by the local authority. However, there are still ways around it. Gamblers can get around the Internet Access Management Policy by using a web proxy server. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has banned most of them but there are thousands of new ones popping up every day. So, if you’re very motivated, you might find a way to bypass the system.
Players can also use the VPN connection, which allows them to use the internet connection with an IP address from a different country. For instance, a gambler from the UAE can use the VPN connection to connect in any other country, where gambling is permitted and use their betting websites. Most online casinos accept cryptocurrency and this simply adds another level of security. Crypto enhances the privacy and security of the payee ensuring that all the information is hidden to the public.
Another way is also to use a remote desktop connection. It’s a process of connecting with a computer outside the United Arabs Emirates and using their internet connection to access the bookmakers.
There are ways of beating the system and still being able to access the world in gambling. But, whichever you choose, you can still get caught. Using any of these connections for gambling is considered illegal and is a subject for a maximum prison sentence. Be careful and be aware!
Do Bookmakers Allow UAE Players?
The answer is yes.
Majority of the bookmakers allow players from the UAE and they offer bets on the events happening there. As long as bookies operate outside the UAE borders, their jurisdiction doesn’t affect them. One of the bookmakers that allow bettors from the UAE is Bet365. They often set up the odds for local horse races.
The problem starts when accessing the sportsbook from the UAE. Gambling from the UAE can be tricky and for many, it’s too risky to try. Remember, you won’t only be fined but you can also be sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. Especially, if caught using the VPN connection or other alternative ways of avoiding to use your original IP address.